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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

The two days of public questioning of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have featured explosive, important, and revealing moments — at least when Democrats were asking the questions. However, the public may have missed these instances because the evening news shows on three major cable news channels and broadcast networks paid insufficient attention to the hearing, breaking off from it hours early or devoting more coverage to dysfunction in the Trump administration.

According to some media reports, Republicans were confident that the hearings would go smoothly and that efforts of Kavanaugh’s opponents “failed to get serious traction” before the hearings began. Perhaps that’s because in the lead-up to the hearing, the network evening news shows barely even mentioned Kavanaugh’s name, and as the hearing continues, they are focusing much more coverage on the latest revelation of chaos in the Trump White House. And let’s not forget that Associated Press wire stories about the Supreme Court nominee in the first six weeks since Kavanaugh’s nomination featured about 50 percent more pro-Kavanaugh voices than anti-Kavanaugh voices. News organizations have been treating Kavanaugh’s nomination as an inevitable confirmation — but some revelatory exchanges from the hearing should change that.

Here are some of the most illuminating moments you may have missed:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) repeatedly questioned Kavanaugh on his use of documents stolen from Democratic staffers when Kavanaugh worked on judicial nominations for the George W. Bush White House. He further explored whether Kavanaugh’s claim that he didn’t know the documents were stolen is believable:

Leahy also questioned Kavanaugh over President Donald Trump’s insistence he has “the absolute right” to pardon himself of any crime:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) rattled Kavanaugh by asking him whether he’d ever discussed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with anyone working at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, which was founded by Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz:

Harris questioned Kavanaugh on reproductive rights and pressed him to name any laws that allow the government to regulate male bodies. He could not:


Harris also explained to Kavanaugh that a phrase he used in an op-ed, “racial spoils system,” is “commonly used by white supremacists”:

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) exposed that Kavanaugh “disparaged the Native Hawaiian community” in an op-ed he wrote:

Hirono highlighted Kavanaugh’s relationship to disgraced former Judge Alex Kozinski, whose behavior, according to Hirono, was “so notorious that professors began to warn female students not to apply for clerkships with him.” She questioned whether Kavanaugh knew of Kozinski’s sexual misconduct. He said he did not:

Hirono also brought attention to Kavanaugh’s attempt to erect an unnecessary barrier to a minor immigrant obtaining an abortion:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he hoped Kavanaugh would ask for his own hearing to be suspended in light of Republicans withholding a massive amount of documents related to Kavanaugh’s history:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) challenged the farcical claim by the Republican majority that 42,000 documents released the evening before the hearing could be reviewed before the hearing started:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) highlighted the role of right-wing and corporate dark money behind Kavanaugh’s nomination:

During one of the few interesting exchanges involving a Republican senator, Kavanaugh indicated his belief that birth control medications are “abortion-inducing drugs” while being questioned by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) eviscerated Kavanaugh for his dodges on giving his view on Roe v. Wade:

Unfortunately, cable news viewers missed several of these moments as the channels instead covered other topics. On September 5, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all skipped at least five full hours of questioning. And on September 6, CNN and MSNBC stopped most of their live coverage of Kavanaugh even earlier. The media’s apathy over all the scandals and controversies surrounding the Kavanaugh nomination and confirmation process must end.

Header image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters